Sudbury·Up North

Rwandan refugee in Sudbury hopes people open their hearts during Syrian crisis

Emilienne Murera knows all-too-well the struggles and hardships of being a refugee displaced by conflict — and the Laurentian University student in Sudbury hopes the world reaches out to the many thousands of refugees currently in need.

'You can change the life of one person,' says Emilienne Murera

Emilienne Murera, a refugee of the genocide in Rwanda who is living in Sudbury, is hoping the the world will help the many thousand of refugees who are currently without a home country. (Jason Turnbull/CBC)

Emilienne Murera knows all-too-well the struggles and hardships of being a refugee displaced by conflict — and the Laurentian University student in Sudbury hopes the world reaches out to the many thousands of refugees currently in need. 

When the genocide in Rwanda in the early-90s finally forced her family of nine — including 7 small children — out of the country, Murera said they fled to Burundi before landing in a refugee camp in Tanzania. 

These people ... they don't have a future.- Emilienne Murera

"Being a refugee, I always say it's just like a blind person, because you ... have no idea of where you are going," she explained. 

Murera said the conditions in her camp were meagre at best: cornmeal, beans, cooking oil and soap were handed out sporadically to keep people going, but clean water and good housing were often a problem. She said many lived in tents, but others in mud houses suffered when the rainy seasons destroyed the makeshift homes. 

"Everything [in a refugee camp] is about today, there is nothing about tomorrow." 

Watching the international refugee crisis unfold now, Murera is reflecting on just how hard that time was for her family.

"These people are facing harsh weather, they are suffering from different diseases, they don't have food, they're hungry — they don't have a future," she said.  

Murera now hopes people don't turn a blind eye to the suffering. 

"If you are able to help, I would ask people, if they can, to help as much as they can," she said. "You can change the life of one person. You are changing the life of many people around that person."  

As for Murera's life in Sudbury these days: 

"I'm happy. I have dreams ... It makes me feel very good and honoured to be part of this huge country, and to have a country where I can stay peacefully ... and where I can have rights as a human being."  

Listen here to the complete interview with Emilienne Murera on CBC Sudbury's afternoon current affairs show Up North: 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.